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I Think I Am Essay

Who Am I?

I have often wondered what it is that makes me who I am. Is it my personality, or my character? Is it the way that I dress? Maybe it is my choice of career? Or, maybe it is a combination of all of these things, because I don’t think that there is one description or label that is capable of defining me completely.

I like to think that for the most part, I am a pretty easy person to get along with. I am generally a positive person to be around and I try not to judge anyone for the choices that they make or the beliefs that they subscribe to. I just treat everyone with the same respect that I would like to be treated with. However, this does not mean that I am a pushover. I do not suffer fools gladly and if you try to take advantage of me you are very likely to see a completely different side of me! I think that this is something that is probably true of most people though, so maybe I am fairly typical in that respect.

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I am a shy person and at times I feel incredibly awkward around people, especially those that I don’t know. I am the type of person who will hang back and observe strangers before making the decision about whether or not I want to join in with the group. It is because of this that I am often wrongly labelled as being stand offish or antisocial. This could not be further from the truth. I love to be around people once I get to know them, it is just that I am painfully shy at the beginning. Sometimes I wish that I could make people understand this because I am sure that I have missed out on many potential friendships because of this shyness that seems to come across as my being a nasty type of person, but then again maybe only the people who have had patience are the type of friends that I should be pursuing.

Once I get to know you, that is when you will get to see the real me. Not the shy and wary exterior, but the real person inside. The person who can have razor sharp wit fuelled by sarcasm, but who is also incredibly warm and supportive of those I care about. The person inside loves to laugh and will tell you lots of stories about the crazy antics that my slightly dysfunctional family gets up to and the stupid clumsy things that I have done. My closest friends would describe me as funny, loyal and genuine, but it takes a lot for people to get to that point where I am willing to show that side of me.

They say that there are two sides to every coin and that sums me up pretty well. I might be outgoing and sociable, but I am also shy and awkward. I can be warm and loving, but I am also capable of cutting someone down with my sharp tongue. Everything about me happens in contrast and depends on who I am with and how comfortable I feel around them.

In conclusion, there are many different things that make me who I am. It is not just my character and my personality, but also the things I do and say. I seem to be made up entirely of opposites and contradictions. There are so many different elements that make up this puzzle that is me – a unique individual.

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

Abstract

“I am not what I think I am. I am not what you think I am. I am what I think you think I am.” - Charles Horton Cooley

I’m interested in how, as social creatures, we see and present ourselves to others. My recent work explores image and identity, how they form, and how we tailor them to meet social standards and expectations. I look at the inaccuracies that arise from seeing ourselves through the lens of other people, and the consequential manipulated presentation of the self to these very same people - “The Looking-Glass-Self”.

My imagery is inspired by, reflective of, and mostly taken from, social media. The enormous platform the internet provides is a new and uncharted territory which directly effects the way participants build and display their identity. The ramifications of how we are presented online are quite daunting, causing what’s known as “presentation anxiety”. This anxiety prompts us to painstakingly curate ourselves, which can result in flattering, but dishonest profiles of what we are. My work attempts not to correct the mendacity, but to illuminate it.

Being that our identity revolves largely around our appearance, I use the person to illustrate the looking-glass-self. Using various methods, the individual is then distorted by way of fracturing, blurring, exaggerating and embellishing, pixelating, obstructing, and any other means to obfuscate real substance. This is accomplished with a range of mediums varying from aerosol to graphite pencil, to sculpture. My process is laden with uncertainty, often yielding an outcome very different from what was intended, which lends itself to the idea of the construction (and deconstruction) of the self.

This work is relevant to contemporary art because of the ubiquity of this contemporary tool which is social media - the megaphone for image. It is relevant because we are all affected by the concept of the looking-glass-self to an astonishing degree. I believe my work is particularly germane to local Utahns because the focus is on Utahns and how their identity is shaped by local political, religious, and other social aspects. As a self identified liberal Mormon artist, I often see bifurcations and uneasy tensions in other’s and in my own self-perception. My work is meant to expose these internal dilemmas in an external fashion, antithetical to the externally self-managed manifestation we’re bombarded with everyday.

Recommended Citation

Landvatter, Richard, "I Am What I Think You Think I Am" (2013). All Graduate Plan B and other Reports. 328.
https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/gradreports/328

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